According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014 one out of every seven Americans was age 65 or older. It is projected that by the year 2050, those aged 65 and over will be one out of every five Americans. It is to be expected that the number of individuals 65 and older who are still driving will follow that same trend.
Driver Retesting — A Possible Solution??
As a possible solution to this perceived problem, it is often proposed that mandatory retesting of older drivers be instituted. However, when driver fatality rates are calculated based on estimated annual travel, the highest rates are found to be among both the youngest and the oldest drivers. Mandatory retesting of just the older segment of the driving population would not solve a problem shared by the two age groups.
Mandatory retesting of aging drivers has not been implemented in New York State, or in other jurisdictions, primarily for three reasons:
For many, the loss of the driving privilege has significant social and psychological ramifications. The driver license is a symbol of independence on the part of both the new, younger driver and the older driver. It continues to be a nearly indispensable key to mobility in America today, regardless of driver age. The older driver can adjust his/her driving habits to compensate for a decrease in driving skills by restricting driving to:
This self assessment from AARP can help you determine if you should limit your driving: http://www.aarp.org/families/driver_safety/driver_safetyissues/a2004-06-21-whentostop.html
Technological and engineering advances have made driving easier and safer for all, as well as accommodating the older driver's decreasing driving skills. Some of these advances are:
What to do when an aging driver is impaired, unsafe or at-risk, can be both perplexing and paralyzing for families and others worried for the driver's safety. To help with what is an often difficult situation, the New York State Office for the Aging - Older Driver Family Assistance Program, offers the following:
The New York State Office for the Aging can be reached at: http://www.aging.ny.gov/ or at the following numbers and address:
1-800-342-9871 (Hot Line)
New York State Office for the Aging
2 Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223-1251
The Older Driver Family Assistance Program is supported by a grant from The New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.
For more information about older drivers, visit the New York State Office for the Aging (SOFA) web site. They link to national, state and local senior citizen resources and provide information on how you can contact your local Office on Aging (many have their own web sites). They also provide a Senior Citizen's Hot Line at 1-800-342-9871.
Aging & You is a 30-minute TV talk show that addresses issues of interest to older New Yorkers and their families. The program, hosted by the NYS Office for the Aging director and produced by NYSOFA staff, is distributed to over 65 cable and Public Access stations throughout New York State. The bi-monthly program is repeated and shown at various times, making it possible to reach many of New York's 3.2 million older citizens.
Senior Drivers at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
NHTSA produced a series of short videos to show how different medical conditions common among older drivers can impact driving abilities. See on-the-road examples and learn more about how to stay safe. View these NHTSA videos at YouTube.